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May 16, 2014 It was gratifying to read Vera’s recent report concerning the sentencing and incarceration practices in Germany and the Netherlands—practices described as “organized around the central tenets of resocialization and rehabilitation”—as they are closely aligned with the practices adopted by the Hampden County Correctional Center (HCCC) in western Massachusetts. HCCC has codified its operational philosophy and practice in The Hampden County Model: Guiding...
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May 14, 2014 A few years ago, a colleague asked me a pointed question about cost-benefit analysis: "Is it useful or a bunch of baloney?" (Actually, her words were a bit saltier.) We had worked together at the New York City Office of Management and Budget—and budget offices incubate a healthy dose of skepticism. Analysts often hear claims that a dollar spent today will pay for itself tomorrow.   My answer to her question: It depends on how well a CBA has been done and...

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May 9, 2014 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, in an event yesterday at Mercer County Community College, did more than announce the expansion of one of Vera’s Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education Project pilot sites, New Jersey STEP. He framed higher education in prisons as a moral imperative that we all share and an opportunity to give incarcerated individuals the tools they need to succeed after their release. New Jersey STEP—Scholarship and...

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May 6, 2014 A longer version of this interview originally appeared on the blog of the Cost-Benefit Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice (CBKB), a Vera project. Dr. Craig D. Uchida is the president of Justice & Security Strategies, Inc., and is a former director of research at the National Institute of Justice. He is also a member of the Law Enforcement Forecasting Group (LEFG), a program of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). Vera’s...
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May 5, 2014 We tell a story in this country about the normalization of violence. We look at arrest records—particularly for adolescents and young adults—and see groups of young people who commit more and more violent crimes over time. The story we tell to explain this trend is one of children being hardened into violent adult criminals. We have come to believe that each offense paves the way for the next, that the punishment for the lower level ones is an inadequate...

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May 2, 2014 In late 2007, on the heels of a blistering report from the Little Hoover Commission—an independent California state oversight agency—the federal courts found that prison overcrowding is the cause of unconstitutional levels of health and mental health care in California prisons and mandated that the state reduce its prison population. In its report, the Commission recommended changing parole policies, supervising more offenders locally, implementing...

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Apr 30, 2014 In 2012, the number of patients with severe mental illness in prisons and jails was ten times the number in state psychiatric hospitals. Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights held a hearing entitled “Law Enforcement Responses to Disabled Americans: Promising Approaches for Protecting Public Safety.” Led by Subcommittee Chairman Senator Dick Durbin, it featured the verbal testimony of...
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